Ohio attorneys are eyeing “toxic homes” for a potential class action lawsuit.
Last year, ABC 6 and other media outlets reported problems with Weyerhaeuser floor joists. Thousands of units across the United States were marked as in need of remediation.
A press release issued in July 2016 explained a change Weyerhaeuser had made to its joists. A chemical switch in its “Flak Jacket” fire-resistant coating contained a formaldehyde-based resin, which ABC 6 suggests was likely responsible for causing noxious odors in newly-constructed houses.
In Central Ohio, 150 “Westport Homes” were identified as affected by the problem joists.
Two Lithopolis, OH, residents interviewed by ABC 6 spelled out the problems they believe Weyerhaeuser joists caused their family.
According to Michael and Courtney Walker, they’d planned to build a home after Michael returned from an Air Force posting in the island nation of Qatar.
Not long after construction was complete and the Walkers moved in, Courtney began developing what seemed like bad allergies.
Constantly sick and sneezing, Mrs. Walker figured the cause may come from dust or the atmosphere.
“I chalked it up to really bad allergies,” she said. “I was taking two allergy pills per day.”
Michael suffered similar symptoms, too, figuring into ABC 6’s original coverage of the “toxic homes” last year.
“I can’t be in [the house] more than 5 minutes without having dry eyes, burning in my nose. So it’s not a fun atmosphere to be in,” Courtney said.
The Walkers say they would never have built the house with Weyerhaeuser components if they’d known the company had switched its “Flak Jacket” chemical base to something as toxic as formaldehyde.
While Weyerhaeuser has sponsored the cost of renovation – ripping up and replacing the toxic joists – the couple have reached out to attorneys in hopes of sparking a class action suit. They, along with others involved, say litigation isn’t about a possible financial reward.
Since last year’s admission and press release, Weyerhaeuser has earmarked millions of dollars to repair the foul-smelling and eye-irritating wood. They’ve purportedly put aside between $50 to $60 million to rehabilitate affected homes.
Weyerhaeuser and BizJournal statements and reportage don’t indicate the “Flak Jacket” coating causing any physical irritation to customers – rather, representatives for the company say it simply exudes a strong “pickle-like” odor.
Most of the homes built with the noxious joists remain unoccupied and will be repaired before going back on the market.